50 series smartphones herald a new era for Honor
18 June 2021
Samsung is collaborating with AMD to relaunch its mostly-forgotten home-grown Exynos chipset as an industry-leading technology.
At Computex 2021 in June, Samsung and AMD jointly announced use of AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics processor in the next Exynos chipset, supporting tracing and variable rate shading on an ARM-based chipset. The partnership will create multiple opportunities for both Samsung and AMD, besides helping the Korean design powerhouse remain competitive, both in the chipset and device markets.
To give credit where its due, Samsung has been having a dream run in the PC market. The vendor grew 80% in Q1 2021, driven by a staggering 350% increase in notebook shipments, faster than any other vendor in the market. Its Chromebook business has skyrocketed. And this AMD-powered announcement will only help it grow faster.
Apple’s M1 processor illustrates the overlap between reverse and disruptive innovation. That is, Apple adopted what worked well in smartphones (SoCs) and combined it with its bionic processors to disrupt the PC industry. In most benchmarks, M1-based Macs are not merely inching past Intel Macs, they are leaving them in the dust. Samsung is like Apple, in that it is highly vertically integrated, with most peripherals and components in its devices sourced in-house. But Samsung also works horizontally, supporting multiple device manufacturers with its technologies. It sells camera sensors, memory, storage, RF chips and more to smartphone, PC and tablet vendors far and wide. The partnership with AMD will only open doors, and important ones at that, for example, to Lenovo and HP.
But while Samsung is making waves in the memory chip business, its Exynos SoC business has been lackluster. The chipsets have often lagged in performance, with issues like overheating and inferior battery life ranking them third behind Qualcomm and Apple. With the Exynos 2200, it now has a chance to make the most of its partnership with AMD, especially in the gaming performance of ARM-based laptops. If it succeeds here, Samsung will be able to generate new revenue streams by supplying its Exynos-based chipsets to PC vendors outside of Samsung, which are starved of supply. This is a tailor-made Samsung-worthy challenge. The stakes are high. Apple has made the first move, but all eyes will be on Samsung now.